The highlight of the R15 is its powerplant. This is a gem of an engine with a variable valve actuation system that kicks in above 7,400rpm to deliver consistent and strong performance until its redline. The motorcycle is just decently quick in the lower rev band. However, once you get past the 4,500rpm mark, the engine really comes alive. Keep gassing it and the build-up of speed is quick and consistent until its redline of 12,500rpm.
The engine does get noisy at higher rpms but that only accentuates its sporty character. Courtesy of assist and slip functionality, even the clutch is incredibly light while the gears shift with a slick feel and assurance. And these qualities only add to its performance prowess.
It’s also as incredible a handler as ever. We couldn’t really go carving corners, thanks to the limited time we had with it. However, it showed amazing agility and responsiveness while doing some tomfoolery in traffic. Major credit goes to its firm suspension setup which remains composed during direction changes but this comes at the cost of plush ride quality. Furthermore, the sharp and bitey brakes, especially the front one, make riding the R15 all the more enjoyable.
The motorcycle offers a very committed riding position, which is great for spirited riding around switchbacks or the racetrack. But when you spend a long time in traffic, things tend to get uncomfortable. Since there's a lot of weight on your wrists, they start hurting pretty soon. Even the feet up and down action gets troublesome after a point.
Another gripe is the lack of pillion comfort and space. While the seat is too small, there’s isn’t something reassuring to hold on to. Grabbing on to the tail scoops feels odd and crouching ahead with your hand resting on the fuel tank isn’t a comfortable position to be in for a long duration.